Monday, August 31, 2015

The Black Dwarf and his Gangbusting Gang

The never-before-revealed origin of the Black Dwarf and his cadre of crime-fighting semi-reformed criminals! (By Steve Miller, based on characters created by Paul Gattuso. Read more in The Black Dwarf from NUELOW Games.)

Art by Paul Gattuso.

In 1940, professional football player Peter "Shorty" Wilson was injured during a game and left unable to play. He retired and managed to turn his small nest egg into a large fortune with a series of successful investments With his new-found fortune Shorty became a target for grifters, gangsters, and thieves. As fearsome has he had been on the football field, Shorty was unequipped to deal with this new onslaught... and his new fortune was almost taken from him as soon as he gained it. Even his own accountant was stealing from him.

But one of the grifters came to his aid. Patricia "Arsenic" Gaynes originally entered Shorty's life looking only for his money, but his good humor and good heart soon made her fall in love with him. She revealed herself to him,  showed him all the ways he was being taken advantage of, and helped him bring several of the crooks to justice and recover as much of his money as possible.

One of the predators who had come after Shorty's fortune was not going to go away easily--Victor Spunetti, One of the city's most feared gangsters, Spunetti operated a number of illegal gambling parlors and other shady businesses. Shorty's accountant had been paying off gambling debts to Spunetti using Shorty's accounts, and he had further led the gangster to believe that Shorty was paying the mortgage on one of the gangster's buildings as an investment. When that stopped, the gangster came to meet Shorty and demand his money. Shorty, over Arsenic's warnings, beat him up and threw him into the street.

Spunetti vowed revenge against Shorty. To protect her love, Arsenic turned to some friends--cat-burglar Terry "The Fly" Holcomb and pickpocket Matthew "Dippy" Mason. She asked them to keep an eye on Spunetti and his key hoods and give her warnings if they were moving on Shorty--something they did gladly, since they had themselves been threatened by Spunetti's crew. Within days, the warning game that Spunetti had dispatched expert safe-cracker and reputed assassin Joseph "Nitro" Lemerise to rob the safe in Shorty's home. If Shorty also happened to get blown up in the process, Nitro would receive a huge bonus.

Shorty and Arsenic grabbed Nitro the moment he entered the apartment. The safe-cracker offered to help them deal with Spunetti if they would forget he tried to rob them. When asked why they should trust him, Nitro explained that he wasn't an assassin--and that anyone who thought he was was dredging up memories of an accident he'd rather forget. THOSE people, like Spunetti, he didn't mind blowing up,

A few nights later, Shorty, Arsenic, Nitro, and The Fly struck at Spunetti's fortified mansion. The Fly climbed the walls to an upper window and let them in through a side door. Arsenic distracted a guard, so Shorty and Nitro could get into Spunetti's office and break into his safe where the ledgers of his illegal businesses were kept. Before they managed to crack it, Arsenic and The Fly were captured by Spunetti. Shorty, desperate to rescue them, but knowing he was out-gunned, grabbed a blackout curtain from the office windows and a gaucho hat from a rack, put them on, and burst into room where Spunetti was about to torture Arscenic for information.

Shorty's bizarre appearance startled the assembled thugs to the point where Arsenic was able to snatch Spunetti's knife and use it to stab him, while Shorty gunned down the rest of the gangsters. As they prepared to flee the scene, the sole surviving gangster asked, "Who are you?" of Shorty.

"I am the one who's going to put an end to all crooks and racketeers in this city," Shorty replied. "Tell your gutter-scum friends that the Black Dwarf is coming for them."

Safely back in Shorty's apartment, Arsenic asked where the "Black Dwarf gag" had come from. Shorty replied that it was just a spur of the moment thing, but that maybe it was worth pursuing. For all of them.

"If you three go straight," he said, "together we can go good for the law-abiding citizens of this town. We can use your knowledge of the underworld to bring it down. In the process, you can make more money than you could if you continued being crooks: Everyone gangster we bring down will have a bankroll that we'll skim part of that you can split. How does that sound?"

"For love or money, darling," Arsenic said, "I'm in."

"I'm okay with just the money," The Fly said, with a broad grin. Dippy nodded in agreement.

"We'll need a hide-out that can't be traced back to your lovely home, boss," Nitro stated. "I know just the joint..."

The Black Dwarf is available at RPGNow and DriveThruComics. It collects six tales with art by the character's creator--Paul Gattuso. It contains the selection of RPG material you've come to expect from our releases. Meanwhile, here are ROLF! stats for Shorty and his pals.

Art by Paul Gattuso

aka Peter "Shorty" Wilson
Brawn 22, Body 15 (includes +1 Hat Bonus), Brains 7
  Traits: Honorable, Martial Artist, Nimble
  Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Dodge, Double Tap, Kung Fu Face, Murderous Mitts, Run Away!, Sure Shot, Withering Insult
  Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Two Automatic Pistols (Medium Weapon, both fire simultaneously. Deals 4 points of damage that ignore armor.) Black Gaucho Hat (+1 Body when worn). Black Cassock and Cape (Superhero Outfit, armor, absorbs up to 2 points of damage).

ARSENIC (Female)
aka Patricia Gaynes
Brawn 17, Body 17, Brains 6
  Traits: Dead-Eye, Improv Master, Nimble
  Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Castrate, Disarm, Run Away!, Seduce, Strike Pose, Sure Shot
  Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Fashionable Clutch (Purse, Small Melee Weapon, deals 1 point of damage). Pistol (Small Weapon, deals 2 points of damage that ignore armor). Slinky Dress (Clothes).

DIPPY (Male)
aka Matthew Mason
Brawn 16 (includes +1 Hat Bonus), Body 15, Brains 5
   Traits: Nimble
   Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Knock Out, Snatch Weapon, The Walk, Walk and Chew Gum
   Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Sap (Small Melee Weapon, deals 1 point of damage that ignores armor. If used at the beginning of the ABBA sequence, a struck character must make a successful ATT Brawn check or be knocked unconscious.) Fedora (+1 to Brawn when worn)

NITRO (Male)
aka Joseph Lemerise
Brawn 13, Body 11, Brains 5
   Traits: Coldhearted, Dead-Eye
   Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Disembowel, Double Strike, Run Away!, Signature Move
   Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Knife (Small Melee Weapon, deals 1 point of damage). Mini-bombs (Ranged OR Melee Weapon, deals 5 points of damage that ignore armor to all characters within Melee Range of where the bomb goes off).

THE FLY (Male)
aka Terry Holcomb
Brawn 18, Body 13, Brains 5
   Traits: Improv Master, Nimble
   Combat Maneuvers: Backflip, Basic Attack, Climb the Walls, Dodge, Run Away!
   Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Nothing.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I'm not easily shocked, but... holy hell!

Some of you may remember my commentaries on the #Gamergate: The Card Game mini-controversy. (If not, you can read them here.)

As you read this, the morally upstanding publishers who threatened to yank their products from Onebookshelf sites must have fired off emails to everyone at the firm, even more purple-faced with rage and indignation. Because, surely, a straight-faced roleplaying game sourcebook about an extreme fighting tournament centered on raping the opponent is something they'd far less want to be associated with than a satirical card game?

I am talking about Tournament of Rapists, the latest release from Skortched Urf Studios/Otherverse Games.

... wait? What?!
I first saw hints about this OGL d20 System supplement via vague posts in my Facebook feed about an hugely offensive new release on the Onebookshelf sites. No one was linking to it, so I went looking at DriveThruFiction (since that was the only site that links were being provided to. But I couldn't find any new releases out of the ordinary--some things that *I* wouldn't have published and that *I* wouldn't have bought were there, but nothing worse than dozens of other similarly themed "adult" products that are released on a monthly basis.

And then a post by Erik Tenkar (of the "Tenkar's Tavern" blog) came into my Facebook feed. It was about the product Whose Name People Dared Not Mention: Tournament of Rapists.

Holy hell. My first reaction to the sparse sales text was, "Well... it's a shocking title, but I guess it's a good subject for an adventure that revolves around crushing, killing, and otherwise bringing to justice the evil monsters involved with such a fighting ring."

Then, once the "wait... WHAT?!" reaction subsided, I looked at the sales blurb again. Tournament of Rapists is not an adventure. It's a source book. And it doesn't appear to be source book about a monstrous group that exists expressly to be destroyed, but one on an activity that player characters can be part of, in an affirmative sense.

We thought we were risque
Holy hell. When we here at NUELOW threw "adult feats" on this blog as a gag, we giggled like the immature people we are. When Hundal proposed we put them and other content in a little product titled Modern Basics: Feats of an Adult Nature poking fun at people who think sexuality needs to be front and center in RPGs, as well as at publishers who make it a marketing point, I worried that maybe it was too risque and possibly more offensive than funny.

Compared to Tournament of Rapists, our little booklet looks more harmless than a Family Circus or Dilbert cartoon. Even our straight-faced releases that touch on sexual themes in gaming (like Devils in Petticoats and Modern Basics: Feats of Seduction and Subterfuge) are basically PG or PG-13... as opposed to what appears to be a hard R or NC-17 with the Skorched Urf book.

I don't understand the appeal of a game source book themed around sexual violence. I can't imagine conceiving, writing, or publishing such a thing. The most monstrous of villains in my games are the ones who molest and rape victims--they are targets for player characters to arrest or kill.

But will they let her compete?
Now, I am admittedly making at these comments and judgments about Tournament of Rapists from a position of ignorance. For all I know, the book is slanted in a way that makes it impossible for PCs to join in the "fun" of Ultimate Rape Fighting. I have not read the book, nor have I looked at any of the setting material it expands upon--a place called Dark Tokyo. (Someone out there is more than welcome to set me straight if I'm making incorrect assumptions.)

Well... over the next few days, we'll be seeing all sorts of posturing and threats coming from morally outraged publishers. Unless... they really were motivated in their crusade against #GamerGate: The Card Game by far baser impulses than just the desire to play Morality Police?

As far as the apparent target audience for Tournament of Rapists? I am worried they might have taken offense over the things I've published that make fun of their desire to have sex front and center in their games. Please don't rape me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rick Astley... it's how we roll!

There has been a lack of Rick Astley-based RPG material. That changes NOW, as NUELOW Games presents the Man Himself as seen through the lens of the ROLF! rollplaying game, as well as a talent tree for OGL d20 Modern that was inspired by his mighty presence.

Now you can have Rick roll characters in ROLF! Battle Scenarios of your own creation!

Brawn 12, Body 16, Brains 7
   Traits: Great Hair, Improv Master, Irrepressible Optimist, Nimble
   Battle Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Dancing Machine, Disarm, Signature Move, Seduce, Strike Pose, Yodel
Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Brown Trenchcoat (armor, absorbs up to 1 point of damage). Turtleneck Sweater (clothes).

New Trait
Great Hair: Provides a -1 to all Seduce ATT checks, added after any other bonuses or penalties have been applied. (Only applicable if the character isn't wearing a Hat.)

The Rick Astley Talent Tree 
For OGL d20 Modern. Presented under the Open Game License
(Copyright ©2015 Steve Miller)
 Charismatic Heroes, Dedicated Heroes, and Fast Heroes may select talents from this tree. They are also available to any character who possesses any one Minor Power feat (defined here, as part of the NUELOW Games OGL Superpowers System).
   Never Gonna Give You Up, Never Gonna Let You Down: +4 bonus to all Bluff skill checks and Will saves that involve keeping the secrets of allied characters. When attempting to aid another with a skill check, if you roll a 10 or higher on your check, the character you're helping gets a +4 bonus on his or her check; if you roll a 15 or higher, he or she gets a +8 bonus to his or her check.
   Never Gonna Run Around and Desert You: Whenever you are within 10 ft. of an ally, you gain a+6 bonus to saving throws to resist all Charm and Fear effects--even if one would normally not be allowed--and you have a +4 bonus on rolls to resist the Intimidate skill.
    Never Gonna Make You Cry, Never Gonna Say Goodbye: Your allies gain a +4 bonus to all Morale checks when within 10 feet of you. If you are dropped below -10 hit points through any means, you may roll a Fort save (DC18) to be restored to exactly 0 hit points. If the source of the damage is ongoing, you may continue making these rolls until you are rescued. If you fail the Fort save and die, you immediately gain the Disembodied template.
   Never Gonna Tell a Lie or Hurt You: Like the Never Gonna Run around and Desert You talent, except you have complete immunity to Fear and Charm effects when within 10 feet of an ally, and the bonus to resist Intimidate skill checks increases to +8.
   Prerequisite: Never Gonna Run around and Desert You

(Never fear... it's the actual song. We rather like it here at NUELOW Central.)

And here's a link to an "RPG Battle Music" arrangement of Rick's timeless masterpiece....

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Return of the Sorceress!

The multiverse's most dangerous femme fatale, the fearsome Sorceress of Zoom, is back in the latest comics/RPG hybrid book from NUELOW Games... and she's set her sight on the magical treasures of Earth!

Art by Bradley K. McDevitt & Harry Lucey
The Sorceress of Zoom: Down to Earth features five strange comics adventures that present equal portions of fantasy, suspense, and film noir-style action, as the Sorceress sets out to force her will on Earth. Even more exciting, however, are the all-new RPG rules that will allow gamers to unlock the full multi-genre potential of the OGL d20 System--feats and a talent tree that will let them move effortlessly from one world to the next! The book also includes game rules for the artifacts that gives the Sorceress control over the City of Zoom, so now enterprising heroes can take it from her, if they are cunning enough!

The Sorceress of Zoom: Down to Earth is available at RPGNow, DriveThruComics, and DriveThruRPG. Get your copy before the Sorceress discovers we're revealing her biggest secrets!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It only comes once a year! Get your Bill Clinton Birthday Box!

August 19th is Bill Clinton's birthday, and YOU get the present! And this is an extra special birthday... because he's turning 69! SCHWIING!

Celebrate the birthday of America's 42nd president with a bundle of ROLF! scenarios detailing his amazing adventures with his wife Hilary and his arch-nemesis Anthony Weiner! Sitting US president Barack Obama also makes a special guest appearance -- meaning you can use this material to create battle scenarios starring both of America's First Black Presidents!

Click here to get your copy of the Bill Clinton Birthday Box! It won''t be around for long, so don't hesitate! If you don't get it now, you'll have to wait another year for the deal!

As a special treat, we're adding two of Clinton's pals which have been left out of the official products in this post. (Maybe we'll get around to adding them to an official ROLF! release by Bill's next birthday!)

AL GORE (Male)
Brawn 27, Body 12, Brains 5
  Traits: Egomaniac, Holier Than Thou, Limousine Liberal
  Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Debate Philosophy, Dodge, Double Strike, Run Away!
Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Global Warming Report (Melee Weapon, deals 2 points of damage).

Brawn 19, Body 15, Brains 4
  Traits: Nimble
  Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Castrate, Seduce, Strike Pose
Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Bottle of Mouthwash (Melee Weapon, deals 1 point of damage).